* Coach Michael Peck, first year
* In 2011-12 Jacob Price and Christian Collins qualified for the district tournament. As a team, Chillicothe finished third in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League.
* Top returners Caleb Price, soph., 132 pounds; Jacob Price, jr., 145; and Christian Collins, soph., 160.
* Newcomers Nicholas Lawhorn, freshman, 106; Jacob Wheeler, freshman, 120.
* Outlook The Cavaliers might not have a roster loaded with returning talent, but there is plenty of talent around the program.
“We’re young, but we’re very much improved all the way around,” Peck said. “We still have some people out of the lineup for different reasons, but they should be coming back in the next couple of weeks. By the last week of December, our lineup is going to look a lot different than it does right now.”
Chillicothe got its season started with a fifth-place finish at the Circleville Invitational on Saturday, a solid start for a team trying to find its footing.
“The good thing for us is that we don’t have anything coming up this next week,” Peck said. “We’re going to be able to fix a lot of stuff. Nothing big, but I’ve been around these kids for a long time (as the middle school coach for Chillicothe), and I kind of have an idea about them. We’re going to be able to fine-tune some things.”
* Coach Andy Graffis, second year.
* In 2011-12 Five Panthers wrestlers qualified for the district tournament, and the team had two more named as district alternates. Southeastern graduated its first 100-win wrestler in Cody Anderson.
* Top returners Allen Shope, jr.; Travis Abner, jr.; Dustin Blevins, jr.; Dez Perkins, jr. (and the school’s first sectional champion); Derek Francis, sr. All five were district tournament qualifiers, along with district alternates Glenn Trimble (junior) and Ben Keaton (sophomore).
* Newcomers Alex Gordy, Shane Gibbs, Alex Hartman (all freshmen).
* Outlook The Panthers have a good mix this season.
“We have a good group of freshmen coming in, but we also have some juniors on this team that have been together forever,” Graffis said. “When we start practice, basically this group has been together for so long that they’re basically coaches. They know what’s expected of them, and they can kind of lead the younger guys through it.”
Graffis also pointed out his staff, and its high expectations for this year.
“I have to mention these guys,” the coach said. “J.C. Abner, Scott Cyrus and Ryan Foltz. We’re always talking to the kids about wanting to set our goals high, yet attainable. And with the work ethic these guys have and everything they put in, there’s no reason we can’t repeat what we did last year.”
That included the team’s highest finish at the sectional tournament, a third-place showing.
“Last year was pretty special,” Graffis said. “If we can repeat what we did last year, I’d be fine with that. And if we don’t, then it won’t be because of a lack of effort.”
* Coach Reggie Wax, first year
* In 2011-12 Joey Weisenberger (120), Jacobe Graves (160) and Ryan Speakman (138) finished first, second and fourth, respectively, at sectionals to qualify for districts. Harley Halley (160) and Austin Davis (152) and Shay Greenwalt (283) just missed qualification, finishing fifth.
* Top returners Halley, 160; Davis, 152; Nick Gucwa, 138
* Newcomers Matt Carroll, 182; Avery Brown, 120
* Outlook “Really, this season comes down to them getting to know me and me getting to know them,” Wax said.
That’s the way it’s going to go for the Pioneers this season. The good news is Zane Trace has plenty of talent returning, such as Halley and Davis, who both just missed qualifying for districts in 2011-12. As Wax hopes to build trust in the program, just missing is something he say will become a thing of the past starting this year.
“Wrestling is such a sport of camaraderie and it’s about learning to work with each other,” he said. “If we don’t send a bunch of kids from out team to district this year, we’ll be disappointed. The strength of this team is the depth. You go through our lineup, from top to bottom, and it’s an intensity that people are going to have to deal with. When we lose, we’re upset. They don’t go over and just start playing video games in the bleachers or something, they won’t to go back out there and do it again, and that’s the kind of team you have to have to get to the next level.”
* Coach Heath Bennett, first year
* In 2011-12 N/A. This is the first year for the program.
* Top returners None.
* Newcomers N/A.
* OutlookThe Warriors are just in the infancy stages of their program. That means taking baby steps for right now.
This team is expecting and working hard for success, taking great pride in making sure there’s more wins than losses. The only different is they aren’t banking on them to be the measurement of whether they’re successfull — at least for this year.
“I would like to gauge it that way every week,” said Bennett, explaining how quality of performance will be more important that quantity of wins. “I’ve seen a year’s improvement in the kids already. I’ve really just been looking for an improvement every week, and these kids are getting better every week. We might be a little team, but we’re going to make some noise in the SVC eventually. Especially down the road.”